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OUR THERAPISTS

PAMELA A. MALONE, Ph.D., LCSW-S, FT
CLINICAL DIRECTOR
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Dr. Malone (she/her/hers) is an expert in the field of grief and loss and is a Fellow in Thanatology. Her clinical social work experience spans over 30 years, providing mental health services to individuals, couples, and families. She has held teaching positions at various universities where she has developed and taught courses on death and dying, grief and loss, and suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. Dr. Malone brings with her local, national, and international recognition through her many publications, presentations, trainings, and professional conferences. She is the author of Counseling Adolescents through Loss, Grief, and Trauma (2016) as well as the chapter on Wonder Woman and Delayed Grief in Superhero Grief:

The Transformative Power of Loss edited by Harrington & Neimeyer (2021). Other book chapters include Children and Adolescents in Crisis, and Children and Adolescents Growing Up in the Shadow of Divorce in Children and Loss: A Practical Handbook for Professionals edited by Pomeroy & Garcia (2010).

RACHEL SAFFER, LCSW-S, DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING, REGISTERED PLAY THERAPIST in Training
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Rachel Saffer (she/her/hers) earned her Masters of Social Work from Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Starting as an office volunteer at Austin Grief, Rachel quickly grew to be an integral part of our team.

 

Rachel has experience in providing counseling to adults, teenagers and children who have experienced significant trauma in both group and individual settings.  Rachel utilizes various interventions in her practice including therapeutic yoga, EMDR, and traditional play therapy. She believes in providing every client with a welcoming and safe environment so that they can work towards healing on their own terms.

JOELL AGEE, LCSW, MDiv, THERAPIST
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Joell Agee (she/her/hers)

earned her Master of Social Work at Boston College and Master of Divinity at Baylor University.  Joell is also a certified yoga teacher through the Boston Yoga School, all 3 experiences of which have informed her holistic approach to therapy.

 

For the past 3 years, Joell has worked with children and families impacted by a cancer diagnosis.  Joell has navigated the murky landscape of ambiguous loss, particularly as it relates to chronic illness, as well as anticipatory grief.  Joell has helped families manage end-of-life discussions and supported caregivers of medically fragile persons.

 

Joell's passion for grief and loss work comes from a deeply rooted belief in the resilience of the human spirit, even through the greatest of hardships.  To sustain her work, Joell enjoys reading young adult novels, watching baseball (Go Sox!), spending time by the water, and cuddling with her boxer named Dobby.

JILL ARECHIGA, LCSW, THERAPIST
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Jill Arechiga (she/they/them)

Has a loved one died recently or even many years ago? Do you feel you should “move on” or “be past it”? Are friends telling you it is time to start dating again? Perhaps you are tired of being told “you’re doing so good” when you feel lost, scared, and upside down. Would you like a deeper understanding of your grief and its process?

For 14 years, Jill has helped people manage difficult end-of-life decisions and the devastation that comes after death. Jill's goal is to provide a safe and empathic space so you can confront the most difficult of emotions while exploring your ability to transform from them. They are happy to walk alongside you while you navigate this path.

Jill's approach is informal, eclectic, collaborative, and client-centered. Many of Jill's clients describe them as authentic, calming, warm, and humorous. Please know that even though the journey is hard, Jill would be honored to assist you.

 

Jill also has a particular interest in helping people with advanced directives (tackling those difficult end-of-life decisions). When it comes to self-care, she can be found exploring the waters of Central Texas in her kayak and making needle-felted hearts.

LAURA BABINEAU, MEd, LPC, THERAPIST
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Laura Babineau (she/her/hers) earned her Master’s in Special Education from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT, her Master’s in Counseling from St. Edwards University in Austin, and has trained in EMDR trauma therapy.  Laura started her career as a Special Education teacher in Vermont and Massachusetts before moving to Austin in 2006.  Laura has an extensive background in facilitating support groups and has been a group facilitator at The Austin Center for Grief & Loss since 2014.  Her own grief experience has given her a strong belief in the strength, wisdom, and resilience of the human spirit, and the personal growth that can result from experiences with grief and trauma.  She considers it an honor to walk beside her clients on their personal grief journey.

Laura enjoys playing music, spending time with her family and hiking around Austin. 

JOSEPHINE BIBBY, LPC, THERAPIST
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Josephine Bibby (she/her/hers) is currently a Support Group Coordinator for The Austin Center for Grief & Loss. Josephine earned a Masters in Counseling from Southern Methodist University. Josephine has worked in public and private counseling agencies in Austin and enjoys working with individuals, couples, and groups.  In her spare time, you can find Josephine working on crafts, reading, or spending time with her pets and partner.

JULIE BIECHLIN, LCSW, THERAPIST
and 
GROUP COORDINATOR
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Julie Biechlin (she/her/hers) earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas – Austin. She worked many years as a Disability Examiner for DARS, and in in inpatient psychiatric settings, residential treatment and outpatient counseling. Julie was drawn to the field of grief counseling as a result of her own personal loss and to share what she has learned personally and professionally in navigating the grief journey and recovery. Julie sees her role as joining with the client, to witness their process, normalizing and validating their experience, and collaborating to create their new identity and meaning of their loss. In her spare time she enjoys Pilates, hanging out with her adult children and their families and playing almost any racquet sport.

CHARLES CALE, MA, LPC, THERAPIST 
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Charles Cale (he/him/his) I'm a Texas native who earned my Master of Arts in Counseling in 2015 from St. Edward's University.

I've worked with online support communities, in-person support groups, and have experience with individual and couples counseling in my private practice.

Grief counseling has become important to me over the years. Loss and change are inevitable. Anyone who hasn't dealt with that will, so it is important to know how to get through this difficult time.

 

I take into account the client's background and meet them in their world so we can find a way through all this emotional fog. I invite you to bring your genuine self into the session. At your pace, we will honor your loss and find your footing again.

ElAINE DUNN, LCSW-S, THERAPIST 
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Elaine Dunn (she/her/hers) is a therapist with 14 years of professional practice working with adults, children, teens and families. Elaine started her journey with Austin Center for Grief & Loss as a support group volunteer, and after moving away, and then back to Austin, she’s found her way back this remarkable place of connection. Elaine approaches therapy with the goal of helping folks to be seen and heard in a safe space, while collaborating to see their strengths and build connections that will serve them throughout their journey. Elaine has experience working in community mental health, assisting with folks from diverse walks of life in midst of grief, loss and life transitions, managing mood disorders, post-traumatic

stress, anxiety disorders, acute stress and struggling with addiction. In addition to experience working with folks on their individual healing journey, Elaine has extensive experience leading therapeutic groups, and finds group work to be incredibly rewarding and connective. Elaine utilizes an eclectic mix of modalities to find the right fit for each person, and her experience includes cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (including use of mindfulness), solution-focused, and she loves to practice and bring into therapy creative ways to process and integrate experiences. In her free time, Elaine loves running and hiking local Austin trails, listening to audio books, experimenting with new baking recipes, traveling and playing outdoors with her family.

JOEY FECHTEL, NCC, LPC-Associate, THERAPIST
Supervised by JOE DIAS MEd, LPC-S
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Joey Fechtel (he/him/his) was born and raised in Texas and recently graduated with his Master of Arts in Counseling from St. Edward's University. From his personal loss journey, Joey has felt the power of support when experiencing grief and loss. It is his privilege to be in the room working with folks finding their way along the difficult, transformative path of grief. Joey works with individuals of all ages and cherishes the different perspectives of people from all walks of life. In his spare time, Joey enjoys Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, cooking, playing guitar, hiking, biking, listening to all kinds of music, and hanging out with his two cats.

MARK KILLIAN, LPC-Associate, NCC, THERAPIST
Supervised by BRITTANY WHALLEN, LPC-S, LMFT-S
LYNNE LEVINSON, MEd, LPC-S, THERAPIST
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Mark Killian (he/him/his) earned his Master of Arts in Counseling from Texas State University, focusing primarily on bereavement, life transitions, personal narratives, trauma, anxiety, and depression. He combines existential philosophy with empirically proven interventions (DBT, ACT, CBT) to accompany clients on their healing journeys. As a counselor, Mark considers himself a trusty sidekick: helping clients find their way through the fog of grief by collaboratively identifying obstacles, brainstorming solutions, and putting plans into motion. He strives to create an engaging environment where clients feel safe experiencing and expressing the vast array of emotions that arise from loss. Outside of the counseling room, Mark enjoys spending time with loved ones, reading, writing, running, and pondering life’s biggest questions.

 

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Lynne Levinson (she/her/hers) has been a licensed professional counselor since 1992. She came to The Austin Center for Grief & Loss in 2017 after over 20 years at the University of Texas at Austin where she was a career counselor, manager, and administrator. Prior to that, she was in private practice where she specialized in trauma counseling and couples counseling. Lynne is a certified EMDR therapist. While she has been trained in many counseling modalities, she primarily utilizes EMDR and Somatic Experiencing to support adults experiencing trauma, grief and loss. Like many counselors who are drawn to grief counseling, Lynne came to this work through her own personal experiences of loss, including sudden death loss, expected death loss, as well as job loss. She recognizes that many of us seek not only empathy but also guidance as we navigate the grief process, and she honors the

desire for both deep connection and insightful guidance in her counseling. Lynne also volunteers at Hospice Austin where she sings with Threshold Choir for patients in hospice. She has practiced meditation and yoga for all of her adult life and honors death, as well as grief, as part of a greater whole.

JESSICA MARQUEZ, LCSW, THERAPIST
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Jessica Marquez (she/her/hers) is a bilingual therapist with over 15 years of professional experience working with children, adults, and families. She has worked in public schools providing therapeutic support, resource referral, and educational advocacy for students. Additionally, Jessica has a background in leading psycho-educational groups for adults experiencing a substance abuse disorder.

  

Jessica believes that each individual can empower themselves and take charge of their life path.  She assists individuals to achieve self-empowerment by utilizing various therapeutic approaches such as trauma-informed interventions, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, mindfulness, and strengths-based interventions.  Jessica también trabaja con clientes que hablan español, especialmente clientes inmigrantes.

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Jessica has called Central Texas home since 2000.  She enjoys going on nature walks and spending time with her friends and family.

CHRISTI NEVILLE, LPC, THERAPIST
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Christi Neville (she/her/hers) earned her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver in 1999, and following her own personal experience with sudden partner loss, has dedicated the last twenty years to the field of bereavement.   Within this specialty, she has enjoyed working both in private practice, and a variety of nonprofit positions, including many years with hospice bereavement programs, teaching graduate-level grief courses, and coordinating grief support groups for all types of loss.  Her therapeutic work incorporates mindfulness, Narrative Therapy, and other approaches that are strength-based, trauma-informed, and solution-focused.  Grounded in a compassionate presence and a belief in the resiliency of the human spirit,

Christi fosters hope, healing, and empowerment in each person’s unique journey through loss. In her spare time, Christi enjoys music, camping, and all kinds of outdoor adventures with her son. 

SUZIE SHELBY, LMSW, THERAPIST
Supervised by GIANNA VIOLA, LCSW-S
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Suzie Shelby (she/her/hers) earned her Master of Social Work from Smith College for Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has a Bachelor of Art in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Denver and a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Tennessee. She is also a Licensed Massage Therapist. Suzie’s career paths have organically unfolded with her experiences as a Special Education Teacher at the Texas School for the Deaf and as a Licensed Massage Therapist specializing in working with individuals affected by cancer and trauma, paving the way for a third career in social work. Suzie was drawn to the message of hope and healing at The Austin Center for Grief & Loss and started as a Volunteer Support Group 

Facilitator. Her interest in grief and loss counseling grew out of her personal experiences with familial cancer, anticipated loss, sudden death loss, and relationship loss. She has come to appreciate the difficulties and the potential posttraumatic growth of the grief journey, as well as, how unique each person’s grief journey is. Some of the healing modalities she uses to support those experiencing trauma, grief, and loss include Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, Mindfulness, and Mind-Body techniques. Suzie believes in creating a safe and welcoming space for each person to heal in their own way and at their own pace while providing therapeutic companionship along the way. Suzie’s self-care includes spending time in nature, lap swimming, especially under the moon and stars at night, and meditating.

CHANVEEN TANEJA, LPC, THERAPIST and
GROUP COORDINATOR
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Chanveen Taneja (she/her/hers) is a licensed professional counselor associate in the state of Texas, supervised by Jaime Telfeyan. She earned her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado. Chanveen is passionate about helping people who want to explore spirituality and, in the process, understand their purpose and meaning in life. She believes we are all spiritual beings here to live meaningful lives. Anxiety, depression, self-esteem, life transitions, grief and loss, identity, and many other issues can be resolved when one can comprehend the big picture of life and how every piece of the puzzle fits in it, including our existence. Her knowledge about reincarnation and the law of karma forms the lens and aids her to discern the current life

challenges one is going through. Chanveen aspires to help individuals cultivate self-confidence, self-healing, and self-acceptance.  She offers counseling from a holistic perspective that considers the whole person: mind, body, and spirit.

ARIANA VALADEZ, MA, LMFT-Associate, THERAPIST 
Supervised by JEANENE SMITH, LPC-S, LMFT-S
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Ariana M. Valadez (she/hers/ella) is a bilingual LMFT-Associate and graduated from St. Edward’s University with her master's in counseling. She is dedicated to anti-racism and the decolonization of counseling spaces to provide culturally conscious therapy services for teens, adults, families, and couples. She believes that connection and community is integral to our wellbeing, so her work takes into account all of the systems that we interact with.

The focus of her clinical work is on processing the experiences of grief and loss and related experiences of crisis and trauma to help her clients achieve wellness as they define it. Areas of clinical interest include death losses of all types including suicide and homicide; relationship losses like estrangement, divorce or separation; losses related to immigration; pet loss; and the experiences of loss that are often overlooked in our society, among others. 

She incorporates a social justice lens and cultural humility, and clinical theories such as attachment, narrative, internal family systems, and relational-cultural to a trauma-informed clinical approach.

Ariana is sensitive to the many systemic barriers that can prevent individuals and families from accessing mental health services that are the right fit for them. Because of these barriers, Ariana also provides psychoeducational presentations and processing groups to promote emotional wellness for bereaved individuals, families, and communities.

 

Ariana (AHD-YAH-NAH) was born in México, raised in Houston, Texas, and has bounced between Austin and San Sebastián, Spain. Some of her favorite self-care activities include learning to cook as well as her mom (a constant work in progress!), playing with her hairless pup, spending time with friends and family, and making time to learn new ways to incorporate play to her routine!

NADIA VELASQUEZ, LCSW, THERAPIST
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Nadia Velasquez (she/her/hers) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Nadia has over 3 years experience working as a Hospice Austin Social Worker, providing anticipatory grief and loss support to patients and families as they cope with a terminal prognosis. More recently, Nadia provides mental health counseling to home-bound adults. Nadia has extensive experience working with older adults in areas of mental health, aging, adjustment, chronic illness, disability, trauma, grief, and loss. Nadia earned a Master of Science in Social Work from The Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Nadia enjoys spending time outdoors, working on the yard, and traveling near and far. 

HEATHER VIKSTEDT, MA, LPC-Associate, THERAPIST
Supervised by BRITTANY NEECE, LPC-S, LMFT-S
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Heather Vikstedt (she/her/hers) earned her Master’s in Professional Counseling from Texas State University in 2019. Her journey towards a career in counseling began as a group facilitator working with people in recovery from trauma, addiction, and co-dependency. Through this experience she discovered a passion for walking alongside people as they heal from some of the most difficult experiences of their lives.

 

Heather believes that we all have unique life experiences that shape how we view ourselves, others, and the world around us. Our life experiences may have left us with a great deal of pain and distress, feeling stuck, lost and confused, or like life is unmanageable. As a 

counselor, Heather strives to build relationships where clients feel connected, acknowledged for who they are, and fully accepted in a safe and compassionate environment. In working alongside her clients, Heather utilizes a number of interventions to facilitate the discovery of their own strengths, resilience, and power as they heal. Heather has experience working with clients of all ages who are dealing with grief and loss, traumatic experiences, anxiety, depression, substance use, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, and family conflict. Outside of work, Heather enjoys spending time hiking, biking, and playing games with family and friends.

Please call our office, 512.472.7878, for the availability of each therapist.

 

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